Marwo Baxasan Axmed Siciid oo ka qayb qaadatay Warbxin arimha Soomaaliya looga Hadlaayo Halkaan ka daawo
War bixin ay diyarisay Hayad ladhoho (Thebrenthurs foundation ) oo fadhigeedu yahay dalka UK London ayaa ka diyaarisay war bixin ah Soomaaliya oo xiligaan ka guuraysa kumeelgaar, war bixitaas waxaa qayb ka ahaa Marwo Baxasan Axmed Siciid oo si weyn ugu nuux nuuxstay Mustqablka dumrka Soomaaliyeed ku yeelan doonaan dawlada soo socta iyo caqbadaha ka hor imaan kara imaan (Marginalisation and Gender-Based Violence in South-Central Somalia).
Halkaan K a Akhiri warbixntii oo dhamays tiran
Marginalisation and Gender-Based Violence in South-Central Somalia
In the tumultuous social landscape of Somalia, the vacuum of political power has left the power base of patriarchy largely unchallenged. Somali women have experienced – or rather endured – untold hardships during the past twenty years of civil conflict and humanitarian disaster.15 In one respect, they are second-class citizens with limited rights, yet they also play an important and unheralded role in sustaining livelihoods and running small businesses in this fragile state.16
The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Ms Rashida Manjoo, has said: ‘violence against women is a manifestation of inequality and discrimination which cannot be addressed in isolation of the historical and current context’.17 In south-central Somalia, sexual assault, female genital mutilation,18 domestic violence, forced marriage and abduction are brutal manifestations of the very fragile situation in which the state is weak and there is widespread impunity. Women have been particularly vulnerable during the upheaval and violence of the recent conflict. Sexual violence is prevalent in Internally Displaced Person camps, but there is little redress for Somali women in the enduring culture of patriarchy and sexism in which customary and social norms do not provide adequate protection. d intimate partner violence, for instance, is not a legal offence, and it is seen as a private issue and women’s families prefer not to intervene the issue19 women find it difficult to report abuse: the idiom, ‘Walaashaa iskuma hubtid seedigaa ha isku ceebayn’ [‘you are not sure the position of your sister, therefore don’t lose your brother-in-law’] reflects dominant power dynamics within the family and broader community.
Women are also grossly underrepresented in the political institutions of south-central Somalia. Despite a 12 per cent quota, women occupy less than 5 per cent of the national legislature’s seats. In the customary system, women may not serve as sultans, legislators or judges (Xeerbeegti), and they are excluded from the traditional clan forum of the shir in which important clan decisions are made, such as compensation payments. This systematic exclusion of women from traditional politics and the justice system perpetuates women’s subordination and their current limited political representation.
But changes are afoot in Somalia. The Garowe Principles include a commitment to gender representation in political institutions, through a mandatory 30 per cent quota of women in parliament and cabinet. The quota programme has the potential to significantly elevate the status of women in Somalia, as it has done in Uganda and Rwanda. However, increased political representation alone cannot bring change in women’s lives unless followed by political commitment and initiatives to end gender inequality. Legislation to protect women and promote gender equality would be an important milestone in Somalia’s current political transition.20
But women in Somalia are not only victims of conflict: they are important actors with agency, and as such they merit a key role in reconciliation and peace-building processes. A growing number of women in Somalia and in the diaspora are already playing important roles in the process of recovery and reconstruction. They are leading various initiatives to rebuild the country such as the construction of roads, rehabilitation hospitals, schools and rebuilding wells and boreholes. Their involvement could be a harbinger of wider change, with more women joining the political arena, demanding greater equality.
This is particularly notable in the economy. The collapse of the state in 1991 decimated the country’s public sector whilst the civil war required the participation of large numbers of men, both factors that led Somali women to run businesses and small enterprises for survival. Women’s role in the market – and outside the home – is increasingly seen as normal. Through greater participation in the marketplace, women’s productive role in the nation’s economy has become apparent.21
These developments are not new: women played an important role during the civil war, and women’s social organisations have been active in peace and advocacy work since the early 1990s.22 But there is now a sense that women can have a better place in the new Somalia we all yearn for.
Bahsan Ahmed Said is a Programme Associate of the United Nations Population Fund based in Puntland